Executive Branch

Omnibus Drops as House Speeds Toward Vote
Lawmakers could vote as early as Thursday on $1.3 trillion package

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, shown here in 2017, huddled with President Donald Trump on Wednesday to sell the $1.3 trillion spending package. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion omnibus package that would erase years of budget cuts and fund some of Republicans’ and Democrats’ top priorities.

The fiscal 2018 measure delivers on two of President Donald Trump’s biggest goals: a massive increase in military spending and new funds for border security and immigration enforcement. The omnibus would provide $700 billion for the Pentagon in all, or 10 percent more than the prior year, and close to $1.6 billion to bolster enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border, including construction of 33 miles of new fencing — though aides said funds for a “concrete wall” were not included.

Bipartisan Health Care Compromise Falls Apart, Obamacare Battle Continues

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on legislation to lower health insurance premiums for citizens who pay out of pocket on March 21, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The politics of health care reared its ugly head yet again.

A grand, bipartisan bargain to stabilize the U.S. individual insurance market fell apart this week. And members on both sides of the aisle turned to what they know best: blaming the other party.

Mass House Democrat Defections Likely On Omnibus Without DACA Commitment
‘We believe this is a very, very critical issue to be resolved,’ Hoyer says

House Minority Whip Steny  H.Hoyer, D-Md., suggested Democrats may oppose the omnibus without a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Dozens of House Democrats are likely to vote against the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill if the final deal, which leaders hope to announce Wednesday afternoon, does not include a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

House Democrats have been frustrated for months by Republicans’ refusal to allow a floor vote on legislation to protect so called-Dreamers — DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. They’ve voted against several stopgap spending bills because of congressional inaction to provide a permanent replacement for DACA, which President Donald Trump tried to end effective March 5 but federal court rulings have kept alive.

No Clear Path to Legislation for Lawmakers Expressing Outrage Over Facebook Revelations
Congress has historically taken a hands-off approach to tech oversight

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has not indicated whether he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers, motivated by revelations of Facebook Inc.’s handling of users’ data, may take a look at proposals for new data safeguards — but it’s far from clear that Congress has a clear path from lawmakers’ anger over Facebook to legislative action.

Disclosures about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and the latter’s behavior in the 2016 elections, may have given legislation greater urgency than was the case after companies such as Equifax Inc. lost the data of about 145 million consumers. But legislation doesn’t seem imminent and, to the extent it’s about data protection, may miss the mark.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Gets Appointment to Mississippi Senate Seat
State’s first woman in Congress expected to seek election in November

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the designated successor to Sen. Thad Cochran. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith will be coming to the U.S. Senate next month.

Gov. Phil Bryant formally tapped the Republican agriculture and commerce commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who is poised to go out with a win on an omnibus spending bill. Currently in his seventh term, Cochran is resigning effective April 1 for health reasons. 

Podcast: Lessons for the Opioid Epidemic from the Ebola Fight
Political Theater, Episode 11

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., attend an event in the Hart Building on Feb. 26, 2015 when Sirleaf offered thanks to Congress for authorizing funds to help fight ebola in her country. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Illinois Primaries: Ratings Changes in Two Races
Land of Lincoln may help Democrats gain seats

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly survived a primary challenge Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Illinois primaries are in the books, setting the stage for an important batch of congressional elections in November. 

Assuming Democrat Conor Lamb is certified as the winner of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority. That’s a wide enough gap that Democrats, instead of cherry-picking victories around the country, will look to score big in a handful of states. Illinois might be one of them.

Omnibus Bill in Sight After ‘Big Four’ Meet to Iron Out Kinks
Finishing touches on $1.3 trillion package being applied

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speak to reporters following a meeting of House and Senate leaders in Speaker Paul D. Ryan's office on the $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a preliminary deal on a roughly $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. GOP and Democratic aides were putting the finishing touches on the mammoth package and were expected to file it later Wednesday morning for House floor consideration.

Some issues remain unresolved as of Wednesday morning, requiring leadership attention.

Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s received assurances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing is “not even under consideration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

Senate Opts Against Limiting Trump’s War Powers
Measure to cease most military actions in Yemen shot down

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at a rally at the Capitol last year, pushed a resolution to end most U.S. military operations in Yemen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a whirlwind day of White House news, President Donald Trump on Tuesday retained the expanded war powers he inherited from his post-9/11 predecessors, as the Senate shot down a measure that would have ordered him to cease most U.S. military operations in Yemen.

Trump scored a victory on behalf of the executive branch’s ability to launch and sustain military operations in new countries without first getting authorization from Congress. Amid pressure from Republican leaders, the White House and the Pentagon, the chamber killed a resolution, 55-44, offered by a bipartisan group of senators that would have required Trump to cease all U.S. military action against groups other than al-Qaida in Yemen.